Could your next boss be a teenager?


The world is changing as we speak. Bright millennials are embracing startups and making a name for themselves. In fact, through the course of my work, I have met several who are wiser than their years. Lots to learn from them as we look to improve. So is there a chance that your future boss would be a teenager? I definitely think so.


But it’s not always so straightforward running a business as a teenager. Ed Hardy (not that Ed Hardy) and his friend Kit Logan were only 16 when their skiing companion app, Edge, took off. Partly as a response to the steep learning curve, they then worked together to start Young Founders, a summer training program for would-be teen entrepreneurs, attempting to prepare them for the world of startups. Rookie tycoons who don’t know what they don’t know can run into big problems quickly when it comes to accounting, hiring, taxes and myriad other administrative and structural issues that startups face.

There are programs to hasten the startup process. Young Founders, which is on a yearlong hiatus while Hardy and Logan concentrate on their university degrees, the training program will restart in 2018, is an intro to best practices of running a business and a way to give confidence to young people. Last year there were so many applicants that only 1 in 14 got a place in the free program, and Hardy says working directly with schools and communities helped them find more applicants of diverse backgrounds and shift the gender balance from only 27 percent female the first year to 40 percent female the second year.

So how could you stay relevant? By providing advice and a guiding hand. Here are some tips that you (assuming you are older) could help with making the startup company an even greater success.

  1. Keep a cool head and help them to also do so.Millennials’ imaginations can get the better of them. It’s not all their fault though, they’re driven by what they see on social media. For example, all millennials have short attention spans. One week they hate Kanye West, the next they can’t stop talking about how amazing Yeezus is. This also affects how they approach work. From a new project management methodology to a new system of standups to a complete about face, no week of work with a millennial boss is likely to be the same as the week that came before. Continuously pumping out fresh, new ideas is a great millennial trait, but their ADD often keeps these millennials from fully thinking new things through or explaining to their team why they’re important.Instead of getting frustrated, your job is to keep a cool head because it’ll help rein in your boss. You’re going to have to be goal-oriented to accomplish this. The long-term benefit is everyone involved is on the same page and you’ll be the calm voice of reason in the chaos. Whenever they come up with a new idea, be the one to assign timelines to the goals and put them in a calendar. Check in with your boss once a month to review them and to keep your boss on track.You’ll find that even when ideas are sporadic and lack focus, your cool rationality will help temper the situation. Your boss will recognize the effort and appreciate the structure. You can then help your boss achieve these goals in the long-term. They know that they have shortcomings and want employees who will compensate for that.
  2. Become a champion for new technologyMillennials are like kids in a toy store, they’re obsessed with all things new and shiny. If the “toy” is the latest and greatest app ever, they’re all over it. More than any other generation, millennials are the first to adopt new technologies. Be it social media, online or mobile tools, etc, their willingness to try new things means that they’re always connected. Mobile analytics company Amplitude says that over 80% of Internet users can access a smartphone.Because they’re so in tune with technology, they expect efficiency at work. They won’t hesitate to throw out everything and start fresh with something new. However, just because they enjoy using new technology to run their business, doesn’t mean they’re tied to it. They’re only loyal to the next best tool–and that means your toolbox can change on a dime.The answer is, you need to be proactive in order to keep up with these changes. For example: Volunteer to be a product champion. When a new tool is proposed or introduced, offer to give user feedback. This will allow you to stay informed of changes coming in the future. This input is valuable to companies. Follow blogs or subscribe to tech newsletters. Do what you can to stay informed of new and emerging technology. This will help your transition to new tools.Ask questions. Because new technology is constantly being introduced try to take an interest in the industry. Getting to know it better will relieve the stress you feel trying to keep up with changes.
  3. Embrace team collaborationMillennials love to collaborate on absolutely everything (from what to have for lunch to what new phone to buy), but who are we kidding? Let’s call it what it is, they can’t resist micromanaging. No matter how annoying it is, they don’t care, they want to get in there and give as much input as possible.As leaders of companies, they need to be aware of what’s going on to ensure strategies and plans are working as they should. However, you might find this level of involvement irritating. After all, you know you can run a project on your own.The last thing your boss wants is for you to feel inept in doing your job. So the best way to deal with an overly collaborative boss is to understand that the problem isn’t you. You both want the same thing in the end, a successful project. Get organized and discuss project objectives early on so that you understand what your boss wants to accomplish. With this knowledge you can be proactive and stay ahead of them. For example, if you find your boss frequently asks about data:a) Provide them with a weekly report containing the information they need.b) Set up regular meetings to review and discuss information your boss is interested in.c) Regularly communicate progress with your team and boss. If they know what’s going on they’re less likely to want to keep meddling.
  4. Take a deep breath, you’ll surviveAs hard as it may seem at first, millennials and non-millennials can learn a lot from each other. You’re going to have to accept that the workplace is changing rapidly. Case in point, by 2025 millennials will make up 75% of the workforce. Wow.By understanding the mindset of millennials, the transition will be less painful than it needs to be. Take a deep breath and consistently try to find a middle ground that allows you to develop and relate to your boss. It’ll pay off in the long run because you’ll keep your sanity.

Stay relevant and don’t become a dinosaur. Things change, people do as well. The trick is to keep up with it and stay with them. Keep at it and you’ll find yourself adding value to the whole process.

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